For some strange reason, Hyundai has never managed to quite crack the big car league in India the same way it has taken over the small car space. And — also strangely — they never seem to give up. So next month, after a near-four-year hiatus that saw it leapfrog a product lifecycle, the Elantra will make a comeback in India. And just like the Sonata a few months back, it will strive to make Hyundai as popular among the classes as it is with the masses.
Fluidic, fluidic everywhere. Elantra bites the bullet too. Very few of us remember what the old Elantra looks like, and who can blame us? Not many people bought the car anyway. But if you happen to own one of the dozen or so cars they sold, take note: it has become dramatically better to look at. Bigger, wider, sexier... But hang on. Wasn’t that the case with the Verna as well? Exactly!
The fluidic Elantra has become leaner and meaner. And, for those who love numbers, it is shorter than most cars in its class. It sits low as well, but the wheelbase is comparably long.
Hyundai has done well to not reduce all its cars into replicas of each other, with its new design philosophy — a trap into which VW and Audi have fallen. So Elantra is not a bigger Verna or a smaller Sonata. But it has similarities. But it will not stand out in a crowd, with Vernas abounding on the road. Not a head turner, sadly.
What you would expect in any modern Hyundai car; features, and loads of them. The Europeans differentiate themselves with technology, the Japanese with durability. The Americans...I am still trying to figure out. And the Koreans...er... with Korean features. Dual tone colour theme, some waterfall thing in the centre console, many knobs and buttons, adjustable steering, ABS, airbag, ESP, cooled front seats... The list is endless. There is lots of leg room at the back, and while the boot will not accomodate your tiger, a cat will not complain. In short, its a happy place to be inside the Elantra.
Ride and handling
Hyundai’s achilles heel. The Elantra is powered by a 1.8-litre petrol engine that is par for the course, with 149 PS power and 177 NM torque making it second only to Skoda’s Laura. But let us talk about the diesel.
The global Elantra does not come with a diesel engine. Just like the Sonata. But Hyundai has been smart here: they have plonked on the Verna’s 1.6-litre diesel engine, which does not make it the most powerful diesel sedan around, but one of the more frugal ones. And if you thought somebody paying R14 lakh for a car would not bother about mileage, here is news: the Altis, with a grossly underpowered diesel heart, is the segment leader.
Changes have been made to improve handling, and it shows. It is more surefooted now. High speed stability is still wanting, so don’t attempt a U-turn at 120kmph. For everything less, you will not complain.